793.94/15201: Telegram

The Consul General at Shanghai (Gauss) to the Secretary of State 15

591. Japanese Consul General has today communicated to Senior Consul for information of Consular representatives a notification dated July 11th from Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese China Seas Fleet, reading in part as follows:

“The Japanese Navy Forces will start military operations against Chunchow, Tungshan and Chaoanhsin (all in Fukien) on Saturday the 15th July 1939 at 8 a.m. (Japan time). It is requested therefore that third power vessels, including men-of-war, to leave these harbors by the time the operations commence. From that time the entrance to each of the harbors above referred to will be closed by means of obstacles and dangerous objects for the necessity of military operations, so that passage into or out of the harbor will become impossible after that hour. The Japanese authorities cannot assume any responsibility for losses, either directly or indirectly, that might be suffered by vessels remaining in the harbors after the said hour.

“Since the areas in the vicinity of each of the above harbors will become zones of hostilities, third power nationals residing in the said areas are hereby requested to evacuate as soon as possible.”

As the American position in regard to notifications of this nature has been made clear to the Japanese authorities on several occasions, I am not replying to the Japanese Consul General’s communication but am informing Swatow, Foochow, Amoy and the American naval authorities here.

Sent to Swatow, Foochow, Amoy, repeated to Chungking, Peiping, by air mail to Tokyo.

  1. A number of similar telegrams were later received from the Consul General at Shanghai reporting other Japanese notifications of military operations with warnings against vessels remaining in specific water areas. In each case the Consul General stated that as the American position regarding operations of this nature had already been made clear, no reply would be made unless he were instructed to do so.